Will we be left with high electricity bills and is the transmission network in the Czech Republic sufficiently dimensioned? Current topics of the last months became the subject of the Current and Future Energy workshop, which was organized in the Solid21 lecture hall on January 17 by the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, where research into renewable sources is running e.g. within the Pilatus project.
The invitation to take part in the discussion was accepted by Jan Bartoš from the Czech Transmission System Operator (ČEPS) and Pavel Řežábek, the Chief Economist of ČEZ.
Jan Bartoš introduced the digitization of the transmission network management as a necessary step, which requires a change in the nature of the energy sector.
While in the past it was true that the one-way flow of electricity from large power plants was directed to businesses and households as exclusive and predictable consumers, nowadays even a household itself can be a small power plant and the possibilities of electricity production are much wider. Electricity is now distributed across multiple sources with smaller outputs, making predictability more complicated (e.g. for weather-dependent renewables).
In his speech Bartoš emphasized the consequences of external factors of recent times (COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine), which accelerated the deployment of new methods and technologies, from which we can profit in many areas in the future (strategically, economically and ecologically…). He assured the audience that the network is sufficiently dimensioned and contains a large degree of redundancy (back-up and alternative routes) to ensure a reliable supply of electricity in every situation.
The rebuttal of myths and false claims about prices and the situation on the energy market was addressed by the second speaker, Chief Economist of ČEZ Pavel Řežábek.
The rebuttal of myths and false claims about prices and the situation on the energy market was addressed by the second speaker, Chief Economist of ČEZ Pavel Řežábek. He explained to the researchers present how electricity is priced on the energy exchange, where bids from different energy suppliers appear with prices derived from the type of technology used (solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, coal, gas plants). Using the example of a fluctuation in the prices of raw materials and subsequently electricity during the year 2022 (especially its sharp increase in August 2022), he demonstrated what mechanisms are responsible for this development and how they influence political decisions and business strategies. Řežábek also stressed that the price of electricity offered follows the prices of natural gas, because in most European countries the energy mix is designed in such a way that in order to meet the entire electricity demand, it is necessary to use flexible but most expensive gas-fired power plants as the last resort.
According to the lecturer, the positive trend of price decrease in autumn 2022 was due to the fact that the empty gas reservoirs were refilled in six months (from April to October 2022) and the warm weather at the beginning of winter gave hope that these reserves would be sufficient even if the Russian gas supply was completely stopped. He reassured the audience that this price spike was a one-off phenomenon which should not be repeated in the future and prices should stabilise at reasonable levels or fall further. According to Řežábek, it is facilitated by the fact that liquefied gas terminals are being built rapidly (medium-term effect) and the share of renewable energy is increasing (long-term effect).
At the end of the lecture, the Chief Economist of ČEZ focused on debunking myths and false claims about prices and the situation on the energy market, which are caused by the way the Czech energy network is interconnected within Europe, from which all participating countries clearly benefit both technically and economically.
In a lively discussion following both presentations, many stimulating questions were raised on the following sub-topics:
- How to strengthen the energy self-sufficiency of the Czech Republic (and the whole EU) by resuming the production of strategic products (solar panels, batteries, etc.).
- How new types of SiC-based inverters can help regulate the transmission grid.
- How to efficiently operate a smart home with or without battery storage with respect to electricity consumption.
- Plan for hourly electricity billing also for households (similar to the stock exchange), which would incentivise consumption at less busy times and again help regulate the grid.
- How to inform policy makers about technological options in the energy sector.
- What are the mechanisms for overseeing ČEZ's monopoly position in the Czech energy market.
- A retrospective look at the situation in the energy sector about 15 years ago, when it was far from clear that photovoltaics would become the dominant technology in the field of renewable energy sources, and could thus become both an environmentally friendly and strategically advantageous source of electricity even in Central European conditions.
The intensive exchange of mutual suggestions between the research and application communities confirmed the right choice of topics. The synergy between the knowledge of the scientists and the expertise of the speakers proved to be very effective and we can look forward to further seminars on similar topics within the Sustainable energy Strategy AV21 programme.
Jan Bartoš (ČEPS, Senior Specialist in Digitisation):
Digitisation and innovation needed for a changing energy world, opportunities and risks
Jan Bartoš focuses on digitisation and cybersecurity in the energy sector. He is a highly qualified energy policy and security expert with over a decade of experience, including working as an analyst at the International Energy Agency and working with the World Energy Council.
Pavel Řežábek (ČEZ, Chief Economist):
What's happening in the energy markets
In the Business and Strategy section, Pavel Řežábek performs analyses and forecasts pf energy markets and monitors the main factors influencing global natural gas, coal and CO2 prices and the EU ETS setting, as well as EU decisions on climate and energy issues and implications of technical progress. Prior to joining CEZ, he worked at Dresser-Rand and Emerson in various sales and engineering roles.